Sun Microsystems: The Innovator's Dilemma - Page 3

Meanwhile, Sun is working on innovation in a relatively new area for the company-the RIA (rich Internet application) area. With JavaFX, Sun is introducing a new technology based on the Java platform, designed to enable consistent user experiences on desktop, mobile, TV and other consumer platforms.

At the recent Adobe Max conference, Param Singh, senior director of Java marketing at Sun, gave me a demo of JavaFX, which is in its final stages of development.

Singh demonstrated that JavaFX features plug-ins for both NetBeans and Eclipse in addition to the JavaFX SDK (software development kit). JavaFX allows users to import graphical assets and media from other applications such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. Singh showed how the JavaFX technology helps to make for smooth designer-developer workflow, as when a designer makes a change to a design, the changes show up in the IDE so that the developer is aware of it.

"JavaFX provides the presentation layer on top of Java," Singh said. In addition to a production suite for designers and developers, "We're committed to deliver a mobile emulator," he said. Moreover, Singh said, "for Java developers that are looking at [Adobe] Flex as a means of developing controls, they now have a choice with JavaFX."

So Sun continues to innovate; that's never been a problem for the company.

Indeed, in a conversation at Adobe Max with John Loiacono, senior vice president of Adobe's Creative Solutions Business Unit, I joked about the use of the term "Flash Platform" as being a new thrust for Adobe that signified the direction of the company. And I asked JohnnyL, who used to be a bigwig in Sun's software unit, if Adobe was going to follow the lead of his old employer and change its stock ticker symbol from "ADBE" to "FLSH"-like Sun did when it changed its ticker from "SUNW" to "JAVA" to indicate the company's relationship to the ubiquitous Java platform.

Loiacono chuckled, but quickly got serious and said, "There's no shortage of innovation at Sun. Jonathan [Schwartz] has a difficult job, and that move was just one of many he has made" to ensure that Sun will keep moving ahead.

Despite its struggles, Sun continues to garner major attention in the industry. What do you think Sun ought to do to capitalize on its innovations?